in praise of really old literature

I read a lot of modern writing: out of 45 books read in 2007, a total of two were published over 100 years ago (Much Ado About Nothing and – a religious text – The Book of Mormon).  But I have a friend who loves the old stuff, and this quote from Charles Lamb – published in 1825 – captures something of that:

Rather than follow in the train of this insatiable monster of modern reading, I would forswear my spectacles, play at put, mend pens, kill fleas, stand on one leg, shell peas, or do whatever ignoble diversion you shall put me to.  Alas!  I am hurried on in the vortex.  I die of new books, or the everlasting talk about them. . . .  I will go and retrieve myself with a page of honest John Bunyan, or Tom Brown.  Tom anybody will do, so long as they are not of this whiffling century.

Mr Lamb, I am a slave to the insatiable monster and am loving it!  His “insatiable monster” makes me think of the spirit No Face in the film Spirited Away, who becomes a giant black blob, gobbling up everything in its wake.  Somebody shovel a few more audiobooks into my brain, please.

* The quote is proximately from Anne Fadiman’s book of essays At Large and At Small.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s